Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type





Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen


Too few community college students who intend to transfer and earn a baccalaureate degree actually do. Further, low-income and first-generation college students are overrepresented at community colleges. Education is considered a means of social and economic mobility for low-income, first-generation students; therefore, retaining this population through baccalaureate attainment is a critical issue. Because of the multitude of obstacles these students must conquer, it is crucial to implement effective strategies for improving transfer rates.

This dissertation has three components: (1) companion research study, (2) individual research study, and (3) reflective essay examining pretesting and telephone-administered survey methods. The companion study was conducted by a research team comprised of four members. A quantitative analysis was conducted to describe characteristics of the institutions and student population, which included 338 Spring/Summer 2009 Associate in Arts (AA) and/or Associate in Science (AS) graduates from four community colleges in Appalachia Kentucky. This study found that differences in institutional transfer rates were not explained by student characteristics. Two institutions were identified as high-impact institutions promoting transfer success, with their graduates at least two times more likely to transfer than students attending the two low-impact institutions.

The individual research study addressed how mattering perceptions of low-income, first-generation students influence transfer persistence. The Mattering Scale Questionnaire for College Students (MSQCS) was administered to 80 graduates of the three community colleges in the study. There were two research questions: (1) Was mattering perception statistically significant among the three community colleges? and (2) Did mattering perception influence transfer persistence when student characteristics were controlled? Analysis of variance found no significant differences between the three community colleges on any MSQCS subscale. Logistic multiple regression found MSQCS Faculty Subscale, MSQCS Multiple Roles Subscale, and first-generation status to be predictors of transfer persistence. Community colleges can use the results to increase social and academic integration and mattering perceptions of students on their campuses.

The reflective essay discussed the benefits and pitfalls of utilizing both cognitive interviewing pretesting and telephone-administered survey methods utilized in the individual research component. Implications of cognitive interviewing in higher education were discussed.